Soldiers of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (1R ANGLIAN) sprang into action today to practise how they would work alongside civil authorities to protect against the threat of coastal flooding, while training for its forthcoming role as UK Standby Battalion (UKSB).
The troops were alerted in the early hours to a fictional tidal surge threatening to flood parts of East Anglia, with civil authorities requesting assistance to bolster sea defences. Within hours, the unit had checked and loaded equipment and set off from its barracks in Woolwich, south London, to Shoeburyness, Essex.
On arrival, the soldiers worked with staff from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the Environment Agency to practise putting up a 200-metre demountable flood barrier in Gunners Park.
The snap deployment, called Exercise Proteus, was designed as a final confirmation of 1R ANGLIAN’s readiness to take on the role of the (UKSB. The battalion, known as the Vikings and which recruits from Essex, will now be held at high readiness to support civilian authorities dealing with a natural disaster or major incident.
Captain Adam Peters, Officer Commanding A (Norfolk) Company 1 R ANGLIAN, said: “We were ordered to deploy with a minimum of warning to carry out a task that is totally new to us. We supplied the manpower, the Environment Agency supplied the flood barrier and their experts and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council planned and managed the whole task.
"It has been a great team effort and good practice in case our support is ever needed in the future.”
Protecting people and property from flooding
Keith Holden, emergency planning manager for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “We are pleased to be able to support the Army by providing a location for this exercise. We work closely with our partners, such as the Army, blue light services and the Environment Agency, to plan and rehearse our response to emergency scenarios.
"Whilst we all hope that we will never have to put these plans into action, they help us ensure we can protect local residents and businesses and respond quickly and effectively should the worst happen. What we learn from today will help us to tighten up all agencies’ plans to respond together to emergencies anywhere in the East of England.”
Jennifer Rochester, an Environment Agency incident specialist, said: “Protecting people and property from flooding is a priority for us so we are pleased the Army is practising how it can support us in this role by erecting our demountable defences in this important exercise.
"Our staff have joined the troops at Gunners Park to improve how we work together ahead of the winter months and what we learn from the exercise will be useful across the country.”
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Dixon-Warren, who is in charge of emergency planning and liaison with civil authorities for 7th Infantry Brigade and HQ East, said: “This has been a thorough test of our troops’ readiness to respond to the danger of coastal flooding and an excellent opportunity to train with our civilian partner agencies.”